Jan 4, 2022 - Sports

Buccaneers talk Antonio Brown fallout

Antonio Brown runs with the ball agains the Jets.
Antonio Brown runs with the ball agains the Jets. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Puzzled football fans are trying to understand why wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has a history of volatile behavior and has acknowledged his mental health issues, stripped off his pads and shirt and left the field during the Bucs win over the New York Jets Sunday.

  • The episode was the latest in a string of incidents that includes a recent three-game suspension for giving the team a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

The latest: Though Bucs coach Bruce Arians said after the game that Brown is "no longer a Buc," he has not been officially released yet, per ESPN.

  • Arians said Monday that he had not talked to Brown or his representatives, but did not regret signing the seven-time Pro Bowler.
  • "It was very hard," Arians said Monday. "I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It's very hard. Because I do care about him."

What they're saying: "I think everybody should hopefully do what they can to help him in ways that he really needs it," Bucs quarterback Tom Brady said after the game. "We all love him. We care about him deeply."

Between the lines: The Bucs are certainly hinting at some sort of mental break — and others have suggested Brown could be dealing with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition.

  • Brown hasn't spoken publicly since he threw his shirt and gloves into the stands before making for the exit and motioning to fans as he galloped across the end zone.

Yes, but: Brown’s official Twitter account shared a link Monday to a rap by Brown called "Pit Not a Palace."

Flashback: For some, the episode brought to mind Vontea Davis, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Bills who walked to the locker room during a game in 2018 and then drove home, quitting football for good.

  • When Davis posted a powerful ESPN story about his decision to quit football to his private Instagram account, Brown's official account replied in the comments: "Love big bro."

The big picture: The Bucs (12-4) can still earn the No. 2 seed with a win Sunday at home against Carolina.

But, but, but: Injuries have left the Bucs with only one healthy running back on the roster, worrisome for a team missing many of the offensive weapons, including Brown, that led to last season's Super Bowl.

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